QUICK NOTE...Update: 1/2/19
The blog is slowly coming back on line. We were right in the path of Hurricane Michael (like so many others), and while the family is safe (pups, and parents), the house didn't fair as well. So, reading and blogging (as much as I adore it) have to take a back burner. I've finally reached a stage in all this chaos that I feel that I can try to take a few baby steps back into the blogging world. A post here, a post there, and who knows. Hope you stay along for the ride!
Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Aw, yes..the March sisters, in all their crowning pale glory, are gathered round for the Christmas festivities. We have the common food staples and the long desired plum pudding...and yet not a morsel of this feast is seen on the lips or plates of these young girls. How odd! *squeak squeak* What was that? Oh look...a mouse! Or perhaps I should say it WAS a mouse as it seems one of the sisters just stealthily reached out, plucked it mid-jump and drained the little critter dry. Yep, that was unexpected...oh, wait....they are little VAMPIRE women this time around. Never mind...TOTALLY expected.
* All entries must be submitted using the form accessible through this post. You MUST include your email address in order to be counted as well as contacted should you be chosen as the winner!
*Winners will be contacted via email by Monday, June 7th, 2010 and will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. Should they fail to respond in the given time, a new winner will be chosen.
*Winners name and address will be forwarded to Karen at Linwood Publicity for prize send out and then discarded.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
This is the story of one man's journey from upstanding citizen to a rider of the edge of the law. Gregg Valentino...a name commonly heard in body building circles (no, I don't travel in them, but stay with me here...) for one of two reasons. First, a top notch "professional" in his sport and the go to man to find out how to better your body for showing. Second, a cautionary tale of "if it's wrong to start with it will catch up to you in the end no matter what your intentions really were". From coming on the scene as a natural body builder avoiding all the steroids and drugs that can cast a shadow on the form they've reached to not only partaking of them (the steroids, not other drugs) but dealing them to others to increase their physique, this is a life filled with many lessons learned...the hard way.
This book is in stores now so if you want a chance to see behind the public image, you merely need to seek it out. Special thanks to ECW Press for the ARC copy to review. (THANKS!) For more information on this book and other potential reads, check out their site or follow along on Twitter.
Here's the question that begs to be asked. Out of the books you've read, which one would you say was out of your usual "box" or comfort zone that you still decided to take a chance on? How was the experience? The comments on open....
Until next time....happy reading!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Ally Ryan is one lucky girl. She's great at basketball, decent in her studies, lives on the "crest" side of town and has wonderful friends.....in her dreams. Up until about 18 months ago, that would have described her life. Up until the day her father gave some not-so-good investment advice and caused most of the Cresties to lose significant amounts of their eternal nest eggs, she was considered one of them; a perfect match to her clique of friends, their Sunday dinners, favored activities and even a little trouble from time to time. Up until that time, her life was for all intents and purposes, a fairytale. Now? Not so much...
*WARNING* FAN GIRL MOMENT TO COMMENCE IN 3...2...1...*
OMG OMG OMG! I literally just finished reading my ARC copy of this book yesterday around lunch time and simply could not wait to spread the love about it. (Seriously, I think I talked about the book to at least five or six people already and with this post...the masses...) It was GREAT! One of those non-paranormal (since they are all the rage right now, this change was refreshing...) YA finds that comes along and begs to be read...in completion....in one sitting. Alas, I didn't have that time available, but I did finish it in record time given my availability. Started on Saturday, finished on Monday. Not bad, not bad at all....
The story takes place over the course of a school year and when the months change you get this little inserted page that reads like snippets of hallway conversations or text messages that might fly back and forth between the gossiping crowd. Nice segway to show you public perception at the school. For those non-Twilight fans (GASP! The horror....but I totally forgive you!), there is a little bashing of the over zealous nature to adopt everything to Twilight-esque standings...especially when the prom theme is Twilight. The up-to-date nature of the references and happenings definitely adds to putting you in the story as if it was happening right around you. (Nice touch!) Also, the cover...let me just mention that cover. (Okay, so I mentioned it right there, but now I'm going to talk about it a little.) It's a perfect fit for the story. Simple in design, eye pleasing in color combo, and it cuts straight to the books core. Think about it. A string of pearls signifying wealth and women, broken to signify the connections that were there are now lost and really, who wants a broken strand of pearls (that's where the "dead to us" part plays in)? To sum it all up....you won't want to put this one down and when the last page is turned, you'll be joining me in hoping for a follow up book...SOON!
Shall we have a taste?
I thought that the dingy gray condo in front of which I was now standing -- discernible as my new home solely by the fact that the movers had propped the storm door open with a cinder block -- was butthole hideous. Although, on the bright side, it was exactly the same butthole hideous as every other condominium on this particular block of Orchard View condo complex, so at least it wasn't alone in its butthole hideousness. -- pg 2, She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott (ARC)
My anticipation had as much dread as excitement. I hoped an improved version of my brother would come home with his wife that nighht, but I knew that the arrogant sadist who'd left would probably be the one to return. -- pg 70, My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (ARC)
Monday, May 24, 2010
No Hope for Gomez!
Gomez Porter is your typical everyday kind of man. He gets up in the morning, puts his pants on one leg at a time...he even walks to work (okay, so that's not so everyday, but go with me on this). One would think from the outside looking in, um, where's the story in this? As the old adage goes though, looks can be deceiving.
Upon closer inspection, Gomez is anything but ordinary. He runs an antique store ever since the untimely demise of his parents (while traveling on an antiquing road trip no less) and along with that store came one Hicks. What's a Hicks? Oh, it's a person (whom Gomez sets to sell on eBay, but that is another story altogether)....a person with many different phobias. Perhaps phobias is the wrong word to use though...it's not so much that he's afraid of everything, it's more that anything apart from his slightly-normal/slightly not-so-normal daily routine tends to put him on edge. He's best put to sweeping in the store lest the filing boxes decide to be inappropriate towards him, or the clock change time unexpectedly (yeah, he's a character even though mostly a supporting role). Back to Gomez....
This is a madcap adventure for readers everywhere. The book is written as blog entries (yes, BLOG entries) from Gomez himself. Every day, every particular stream of thought he has written in as a separate blog post. It's quite funny actually (and fun) once you get the hang of it. Gomez is quite the character. Between his paranoia about the smallest things to his ability to create a mountain out of a mole hill (even an ant hill), he imagination only reaches greater heights as he tries to figure out what is reality and what the drugs (or lack there of...hey, it's a drug trial, you never know if you're getting the real thing or a sugar pill) are making into his own reality. Take all of that combined with a superbly talented downstairs neighbor (well, at least in his own eyes) and a case of "who-will-disappear-next", wrap it up, tape for shipping, wait a week for fermentation to occur, look at said package and try to remember why you were shipping it again and then drop it off randomly at a door of your choosing....it's quite a tale (of which I enjoyed).
I normally steer clear of quotes when reviewing (just a choice, nothing personal....I prefer to let you find your favorites is all) however there are times that something just grabs my attention and must be included. This is one of those times. With all the social networking options available, many choose one, two or even all! You know who I mean....it's the person that has a blog (guilty), Twitter (guilty), myspace (nope), Facebook (nope), and the list goes on. Though it's not necessarily a bad thing (though it can be a lot of work to keep updated at all times), it is still a personal choice. The blog entry style of this book was novel to begin with , but this particular quote just made me giggle (not guffaw, but giggle) when I read it (it's all about the wording)....
I performed the only investigative task I could think of: I looked Dietrich Norton up on the internet. There wasn't much to find. Some references to graduations and one or two low profile police cases, that was it. He didn't have any blogs, homepages, or books for his face -- at least, not under his own name. My leads quickly turned cold. -- pg 83
In the end, I would recommend this for older teens and adult readers...younger than that may not appreciate the humor styling used (but of course, that's truly determined by the individual...I merely make a suggestion here). It's a little hard to follow at first, but once you get into the swing of all things Gomez you'll be reading his blog version of life (both edited and un-edited) like a pro. Special talent to notice...the unusual ways things and situations are interpreted by Gomez (the sound of boiling salamanders...hamsters on a stove...)...quite creatively even if at times a wee tad stomach churning.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
This is a story about one little girl trying to find her place in the world....in this case her world is a new school and we all know how FUN (read as scary, panic attack inducing, etc...) that can be. Roberta James is a spirited child that is making her debut at Baker School two weeks after the start of the new year and just after moving to the neighborhood. She approaches the first day with a small case of butterflies, but it's nothing she can't handle (strong girl!). As she makes her way into class, she discovers many different groups of children collectively gathered due to their similarities. There's the monkey loving crew (hangs out on the monkey bars and totes lunchboxes with monkey pictures on them), the fun hair girls, the flower lunchbox group....just to name a few. So many to choose from...but what if you don't just fall into one category? What if you and your interests are a blend of several? Can Roberta sort through the kiddie hierarchy to find a place she belongs.....a place she can be claimed as "one of us"?
I'm certainly not an art major, but I can definitely appreciate fine artistry. The illustrations in this book bring to mind the technique used by the likes of Van Gogh and other revered painters. What made you choose this style for your work?
I am certainly very happy to have a style compared to Vincent Van Gogh! As I believe many artists will admit, my style just sort-of evolved and is still evolving everyday. I love to layer color and build textures and experiment with different techniques. I've gravitated to this style over the years and it feels very comfortable for me.
As an illustrator, a love of art is generally ingrained within your character. To whom do you look up to in this field?
This field is full of such wonderful illustrators that I admire. I have been a huge fan of James Gurney of Dinotopia fame and I've studied his process and learned so much from him. The amazing David Wiesner and Brian Selznick are also favorites of mine. And of course I am a great admirer of Norman Rockwell, (who isn't!) because of his ability to capture emotion in the people he painted which is what I strive for. I am also lucky enough to be part of an fantastic critique group of children's illustrators who are a constant inspiration to me.
Creative minds often give a portion of themselves whenever they create something new. Is there a little of you within the characters we see in this book? Who would you most identify with?
What a great question! I definitely identify with Roberta. Peggy Moss wrote such a wonderful character that immediately reminded me of my school years. I thought of myself as a "floater" with many friends and interests although I believe Roberta was a bit braver than I was when it came to being herself. When creating her I definitely drew on my memories as a kid - I wore a lot of those striped shirts too!
The color palette used is in one word...whimsical. I love the variety and mixed feel of them all on the same page at once, definitely plays right into the story. What inspired you to make Roberta's world so colorful beyond the differences noted between the groups of children?
Color has always been my thing- I've tried limited palettes but it never quite works for me even though I love paintings and illustrations done in monotones or a few colors to create a certain mood. Like I said, all artists tend to evolve into their own style and mine is certainly centered around color, right now anyway. I loved how this story felt so alive and fun so the full color approach really seemed to work!
I noticed in your 'about me' information, you worked as a mural painter, greeting-card illustrator and portrait artist. Quite a career in the art world! When did you realize that this would be your calling?
I've always admired and desired to work in this industry. Many years ago I took a course at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I worked one-on-one with a wonderful illustrator Deb Desiax (The Girl Who Danced With Dolphins ). She was so encouraging and inspirational but I was newly married and starting my family at the time. Illustrating greeting cards and painting murals were something I found the time to do but as soon as my third child headed off to kindergarten three years ago I have gone into children's book illustration full force and I have never looked back! I still do illustrate cards and I am refining my portrait skills but there is nothing quite like bringing stories to life!
When I was younger, I wanted to be.... an artist!
If I wasn't an illustrator, I would be.... a weather girl on TV.
When I'm not plying my trade, I can be found.... reading or watching movies and sports with my family.
My favorite color is.... bright red!
On my nightstand is.... a note book for mid-night inspirations, a novel assigned by my book club (this month it's The Bridge of San Louis Rey by Thornton Wilder), and a non-fiction self help book, (this time it's The Seven Steps to Fearless Speaking since I have to do start doing school presentations!) Oh and I can't forget my cell phone which wakes me up at 3am some days because I can't wait to get to work. (I do usually take a nap and go to bed by 9pm.)
The best advice I can give to future illustrators-in-training is..... make the time to learn to draw first by filling up many sketch books and drawing everyday, this is so important! And don't give up! A cliche but true, don't let anyone tell you it's too hard because if I can do it anyone can!